Once a Byzantine cathedral, then an Ottoman mosque, then a museum, and now a mosque again, Hagia Sophia is a renowned architectural gem in Istanbul. With its awe-inspiring grand dome, intricate mosaics, and fusion of Byzantine and Islamic elements, the Hagia Sophia is a standing testament to human creativity, resilience, and the harmonious coexistence of different civilizations.
As you step inside the Hagia Sophia, you are greeted by the breathtaking Grand Dome, with the walls adorned with intricate carvings and mosaics. These wall artworks narrate the story of several religious events, which Hagia Sophia has witnessed in the many years of its being. The imperial lodge offers a beautiful view of the nave and dome, while the Deesis Mosaic evokes profound emotions with its portrayal of Christ, Mary, and John the Baptist. From the mesmerizing Mihrab to the enchanting Minbar, each detail reflects the harmonious fusion of Byzantine and Islamic influences.
The Grand Dome inside the Hagia Sophia is an engineering marvel of its time. It's sheer size and intricate ornamentations will surely leave you in awe. Look up and admire the beautiful Byzantine mosaics that adorn its surface, showcasing scenes from the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and various saints.
This door is located towards the southern side of the Hagia Sophia. This entrance was reserved exclusively for the Byzantine Emperors and added an aura of exclusivity and grandeur to their lifestyles. It has several intricate marble carvings on its surface that are a testament to the opulence of the Ottoman Sultans.
Enter the Imperial Lodge on the second floor and take a moment to imagine the Byzantine rulers experiencing the spiritual splendor of the Hagia Sophia from an elevated space. The Imperial Lodge also has several ornate furnishings on its surface and offers fantastic views of the dome and the nave.
The Dessis Mosaic is located in the southern part of the Hagia Sophia gallery. It depicts Christ enthroned between the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, who is shown pleading with him to intercede on behalf of humanity. The exquisite craftsmanship and emotional depth of this mosaic make it a must-see within the Hagia Sophia.
The Wishing Column on the northern side of the Hagia Sophia is one of the most popular sections within the Hagia Sophia. It is rumored that if you put your thumb on the small hole, rotate it 3 times, and make a wish, and your thumb is wet, the wish will be fulfilled. It is also believed that the Wishing Column possesses healing powers.
It is an ornate niche facing the direction of Mecca, located within the apse of the Hagia Sophia. This relic was added when the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. Its rich colors and intricate designs continue to highlight the fusion of Byzantine and Islamic architectural styles, symbolizing the harmonious coexistence of different cultures.
You will spot the Minbar near the Mihrab. It is a raised pulpit that was used by the imams to deliver sermons. The intricate woodwork and decorative motifs show the opulence and craftsmanship of the Ottoman artisans. The Minbar is an important addition that solidifies Hagia Sophia’s significance as a mosque.
Conclude your exploration by observing the Weeping Column in the north aisle. According to popular belief, this column possesses healing properties. It is said that the moisture on its surface comes from countless visitors seeking blessings and solace. The Weeping Column beautifully captures the enduring legacy of Hagia Sophia’s faith.
The Hagia Sophia had been a functioning orthodox cathedral in the Byzantine era and was later turned into a mosque. Its interiors feature a blend of traditional Ottoman and Byzantine styles with European influences. Look out for its Grand Dome, Weeping Column, and the Mihrab and the Minbar.
Yes, you can enter the Hagia Sophia anytime you want to explore its intricate mosaics and carvings.
Yes, you can book Hagia Sophia guided tours to delve deeper into the history and culture of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Grand Central Dome, Imperial Lodge, the Emperor’s Gate, the Minbar, and the Mihrab are some must-see attractions inside the Hagia Sophia. Each of these elements adds to the beauty and opulence of the monument and reminds the visitors of how different religions co-exist peacefully within its realm.
The Hagia Sophia had been commissioned by Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century. Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician collaborated with Isidore of Miletus to create the innovative Dome and giant Basilica. Initially, it had been built as an Eastern Catholic cathedral and was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman reign in Istanbul.
The Hagia Sophia is situated on Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih İstanbul in Turkey.
Hagia Sophia was built around 537 AD when Emperor Justinian I of the Byzantine Empire commissioned its construction.
Yes, you can visit Hagia Sophia for free anytime you want throughout the year. However, if you want to explore its interiors in detail, book a Hagia Sophia guided tour for a more informative experience.
No, you do not need to buy tickets to enter the Hagia Sophia. You can enter for free anytime you want throughout the year.
Yes, you can click pictures inside the Hagia Sophia. But, please be mindful and do not take pictures of people praying. It is a moment of solace that should not be disrupted. Also, do not bring commercial filming equipment inside the Hagia Sophia as it may disturb others.
Make sure to cover your head before entering the Hagia Sophia. You will find headscarves for use at the entrance. Also, avoid clothing that shows off your knees and shoulders.
Absolutely! Whether you're a history enthusiast, an art lover, or someone seeking spiritual inspiration, the Hagia Sophia is a must-visit in Istanbul. This iconic monument is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but also a testament to the rich history of Istanbul.